Published on : March, 2016
Publisher : Notion Press
Pages : 234
Source : Review copy received from the author
Format : Paperback
Rating : 4 / 5
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Synopsis : The Mahabharata Code is a personal account of the main protagonist Narayan Rao (NR), who claims to be an astronomer with NASA. NR and a few other crew members agree to take part in the NASA mission to visit this mystery planet from which they had received mysterious signals. Here, they meet a man with a long flowing white beard, and he introduces himself as Vyasa. He reveals that he has a crazy plan in mind and seeks NR and his members’ help in implementing this plan. He intends to recreate the entire Mahabharata on this planet to restore the faith of the primitive simpletons here.
As the Mahabharata incidents start unfolding, NR realizes that Vyasa intends to recreate them page by page here, if not paragraph by paragraph. Also NR begins to realize that his son, Krishna, who is being groomed by Vyasa as Vishnu’s avatar, is nothing more than a pawn in Vyasa’s scheme of things. Other incidents of Mahabharata also unfold according to the original epic. Pandavas and Kauravas grow up hating each other and finally the restaging plan culminates with both the warring sets of cousins facing each other in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Inexplicably, like the original epic, Arjuna develops cold feet seeing his own cousins, teachers and relatives on the opposite side. He seeks Krishna’s divine intervention. Is the brainwashed “alien” Krishna prepared for this intervention?
My view : During the recent trend of retelling mythology, we see an emergence of authors researching and bringing up new facts about popular epics to the surface. Needless to say, we as readers are digging up on the trend. In the past few months, I have read more than 10 books on mythopoeia (yes, that is the official name of the “myth retelling” genre) and most of them were based on similar lines. However, my recent read The Mahabharata Code, was a unique take on this phenomenal epic.
We are introduced to a certain NASA astronomer, Narayan Rao, who, in addition to being an intellectual being, is also drawn towards mythology and religion. His beliefs and past provoke his journey to a mysterious planet, Prithvi Lok, where he encounters something so strange that he is unsure how to act. Vyasa, the storyteller of Mahabharata, welcomes Narayan and his other crew members. The restaging of the epic begins and we, as readers, witness how each and every character of develops. There is utilization of modern technologies, insemination, test-tube baby, radio communication, choppers, hacking, biometric gadgets, etc. to explain all the mystical events that took place in the real Mahabharata.
This was an individual and distinctive concept where basic scientific theories were mingled with philosophy to explain and restage the epic, Mahabharata. The way the author has beautifully drawn similarities between our religious beliefs and technological and physical knowledge is brilliant. The simple examples used are self-explanatory to any person from non-science background. I am afraid, I will be giving out spoilers if I explain too much.
For most of the first part of the book I was confused because it was still unclear to me what the real plot was all about. The character of Narayana did not appeal much as I found him a little bewildered and smitten by everything around him. But may be the author wanted him to be like that. However, I was left a little disoriented till I almost reached the middle of the book. There were too many sub plots and it felt like the author wanted to touch many topics at the same time, which was a pity considering the subject and idea of the book. Few of the scenarios could have been omitted which would have made the story much more organized.
The character of Sristi and Krishna were well-developed and it was a marvel to read how easily Sristi or Krishna explained common issues such as caste system or after-life and Moksha. The Revelation chapter was one of my favorites and Krishna’s grey larger than life characteristics were thought-provoking. The language used by the author is simple and languid as it is a retelling set in the modern times. The theory of alternate universes and the idea of a utopian society is remarkable. The twist at the end leaves the readers’ minds open to a plethora of questions and we are left doubting the meaning of our existence.
Happy reading !
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karthik Rao is a 32-year old software professional based in Bangalore. He lives with his wife Sushma, parents and two little sons Kaustabh Krishna and Raghav Krishna aged four and one, respectively. He says that he gets to meditate close to three hours every day on his bike, thanks to the notorious Bangalore traffic. His hobbies include following cricket, Indian politics on the social media and Indian mythology. He also plays plastic ball cricket with his sons.
*Tell me about some of the other mythopoeia you have read recently. Which are your favorites?*